Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Prochenberg Race, Ybbsitz / Schosserhütte Panorama Race, Losenstein

With the Austrian mountain running season drawing quickly to a close I decided to fit two races into one weekend. There were three options:

1. Two races in the Salzburg area.
2. Two races in the Wachau area.
3. Two races in the Ybbs/Enns area. 

I selected the 3rd option on my list because I could fulfill a long held desire to visit this relatively isolated area and the weather forecast for the Voralpen Mountains was favourable. My friend and fellow Clayton Harrier Jon S joined me. The weather, as predicted, remained fine and sunny with warm light breezes and a daytime maximum of about 20C. Ideal conditions for running.

Prochenberg (from Ybbsitz) 

For the 50 assembled runners the race started with the first chime of  the town's bell announcing 10 o'clock. A light mist lay in the valley but 10 minutes of running brought us into the sunshine on the hillside.  The tarmac road soon became a forest path which wound its way steadily up to the summit and the finish line at the Prochenberg Hut where women serving cakes and tea awaited the athletes.

M60 Medal and Trophy

The mayor of Ybbsitz presented me a trophy for being the 1st over 60. There was only one other runner in this category. More pleasing to me was the fact I finished within 3mins 25secs of Jon's time, something which I cannot normally expect to achieve. He is a strong runner who prefers a longer distance over undulating terrain and rough ground with a steep descent or two thrown in. I felt that the Sunday race would be more to his liking. Here is the result of the Saturday race:

Clayton Duo 

Prochenberg Race - 26th October 2013
7.2kms / 710mtrs hd

1. A Bauer 36:12
34. J Sharples  51:23 (M50)
38. G Williams 54:48 (1st.M60)

50 finishers

Finishing line

The venue for second race of our weekend tour was about 50kms from Ybbsitz so it was a simple matter to get there and secure some accommodation on Saturday evening so that we could have a leisurely breakfast and be ready for the challenge on Sunday morning. 

The morning was fine but on arriving at the start we were greeted by a blustery wind. Fallen leaves swirled about but the breeze was warm and we were eager for the contest. We were in possession of a Mountain Matrix route map and a profile showing an undulating course with two prominent climbs.

Race information card

The course was a delight to run. It had everything the trail runner could ask for. Panorama views, narrow technical trails, wide runnable trails, and a even a sting, a short sharp hill, in the tail! On finishing we exchanged our race numbers at the Schosserhütte for generous helpings of spaghetti.

The race, to mark the end of the running season in the Austrian mountains,  was run in a spirit of friendship through sport. Trophies were awarded to the winners, the middle-placed and the last placed in both the women's and men's categories.

There were no age group prizes. There were, as in the Ybbsitz race, only two runners in my particular age group (M60).

Schosserhütte Panoramalauf - 27th October 2013
8.5kms / 480mtrs hd

1. M Doleschal 40:57
23. J Sharples 55:12 (M50)
48. G Williams 63:48 (1stM60)

69 finishers

Friday, 18 October 2013

Running Joke

Most runners of my acquaintance have a wonderful sense of humour. Running and laughter seem to go together. By the way I'm talking amateur athletics here. That's my sport. There's no money in it. That's why it's so wonderful. That's probably why everybody involved is so relaxed. 

The other day a runner told me a joke I hadn't heard before. I thought it was pretty good. So here it is: 

Khrushchev and Kennedy met one time in Moscow. They wanted to see which of them was the fastest runner. So they had a race. The winner was Kennedy. That evening on the radio news it was reported: There was a race in Moscow earlier today. Mr Khrushchev finished second and President Kennedy was next to last. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

24th Int. Kahlenberg Mountain Race

I took a photograph of a double rainbow; a creation of old testament proportions which suddenly appeared in a light shower in the early evening over Vienna yesterdy. To see the whole of the bow at once was an impossibility. The best I could hope to do was to capture a small portion of it with my camera.

My inexpensive camera is not  good for taking rainbow images but this bow was so amazingly bright and so big that I took the chance. And it paid off.

The photo, by the way, is completely unretouched and shows the scene as it appeared in reality.

Was the rainbow was a good omen for me?

The hills on the horizon at the foot of the bow were coincidentally the venue for this morning's 24th running of the International Kahlenberg Mountain Race in which I was due to take part.

Athletes from no less than 16 nations enjoyed the race:-

Czech Republic
Great Britain.

I have to admit that I didn't stumble over a proverbial pot of gold along the trail, but maybe I nearly did for my final reward was a place on the podium and a gold and silver medal on a red and white ribbon for finishing 2nd of the 9 runners in my age category.

Here's the result:

24th International Kahlenberg Mountain Race, Vienna
13th Oct 2013
8.6kms / 460mtr hd

1st Martin Gansterer 37:02
101st Hans Müller 53:28 1stM65
122nd Gwilym Williams 55:53 2ndM65

188 finishers

Saturday, 12 October 2013

A 'Wild Water' Race

I toed the Wildewasser Lauf start line, or more correctly I mingled loosely at the back of the small field, in the town square of Schladming, the venue of the Ski World Cup earlier in the year, at the odd time of 09:09 on a recent Sunday morning. Entry conditions stipulated that runners prone to vertigo should not take part. 

Ahead of us a 14kms trail incorporating a waterfall climb and a height gain of 610 mtrs. The strange starting time was to prevent the runners being hindered by the local faithful on their way to the morning service at the nearby church. 

The waterfall climb was an adventure in itself and included a 50 meter long hanging bridge over a gorge as well as numerous metal ladders fixed to the cliffs at strategic points, there normally for the hikers to ascend and descend. There were also several wooden bridges and many wooden steps to be negotiated.   

And then suddenly I  was out of the gorge and in space. I felt like a cork being popped out of a bottle. 

There was, to me, a surprisingly short run to the finish line at the Gfölerhütte with its welcoming bowls of hot soup for the finishers and where our change of clothing awaited us. 

Erroneously I thought the finish to be at the far end of the lake (in the picture below) and had consequently misjudged the pace slightly. Whether I could have overtaken the winner of my age category with a longer run-in to the finish I couldn't guess. In any event he had proven a good pacemaker for me, and I had fixed my eye on his red t-shirt from halfway onwards.  

Out of the sweaty t-shirt . . . 

Returning to the valley after the due ceremonies we were able to gently descend some 300 meters using a winding forest track to find a road and a bus stop. A local bus soon arrived, and our start numbers serving as bus tickets, we travelled in relative comfort back to the town. 

. . . and into warm clothes

A most scenic area . . . 

. . . and later a rewarding Melange 


Wildewasser Lauf 14kms / 610 mtrs hd 

1. R Huber 1:06:39
40. W Bauer 1:37:56 1stM60
42. G Williams 1:38:17 2ndM60

55 finishers.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Schneeberg Mountain Race

There were two races in Puchberg yesterday. 

The first to get underway was the 2nd edition of the Schneeberg Trail Race which is a tough race over 32 kms with 2500 mtrs of ascent. It started at 7:30 when I was still at home having my porridge and banana. 

Earlier in the week I played with the idea of actually participating in the trail race but then I finally opted for the classic 10 km mountain race which begins at 10am. This year saw the 17th running of that race. 

Here you see me waving to one of my support team on the way out of the village of Puchberg. To the left of the traffic lights you can see the railway track.


Fine pictures below of  runner 117, for the locomotive is entered as a competitor in the race. She not only gets a race number but an official finishing position and an official time.

I took a close look at my rival before the start. With years of experience behind her and a plentiful supply of coal on board there was no doubt in my mind that she would beat nearly all the athletes in the race to the station 1200 mtrs above us. And so it proved.

I enjoy running along trails through light mountain mists even more than usual when I suddenly emerge into a panorama of mountain scenery under sunlight and blue sky with white clouds like soft blankets lying below my feet. And so it was yesterday on the Schneeberg mountain.

A lovely bonus on the way back to my car was to bump into 6-times World Champion Jonathan Wyatt and his wife European Champion Antonella Confortola. Jonno told me that he had no intention of hanging his trainers on the nail now that he had turned 40 like so many athletes do but to continue to enjoy running in the mountains as long as he was able to and, he added, that he hoped he'd still be running at my age (which is M65). He has been and continues to be a great ambassador for the sport.
I hope he enjoys his running for many decades to come.

17th Schneeberg International Mountain Race 10kms / 1200 +mtrs

1. Andrzej Dlugosz POL 00:53:39
2. David Schneider SUI  00:54:19
3. Azarya Teklay    ERI  00:55:08
4. Jonathan Wyatt   NZL 00:55:57  1M40
12. Antonella Confortola ITA 1:06:37 1L
18. Train 117  AUT 1:08:37
81. Alois Taset AUT 1:20:54 1M60
219. Gwilym Williams GBR 1:38:34* 5M60

298 finishers (14 nations)

2nd Schneeberg International Trail Race 32kms / 2500 +mtrs

1. Michael Kabicher AUT 03:28:42
2. Martin Gansterer   AUT 03:31:32
3. Thomas Wagner    AUT 03:36:00
39. Evelyne Lachner  AUT 04:35:58  1L

108 finishers (8 nations)

Jonathan Wyatt beating the train!

* 9 seconds faster than last time (2011)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Drei Zinnen Alpine Mountain Race

Jonathan Wyatt (centre) in good humour at the Drei Zinnen 

The weather was ideal for the race although there was a slight headwind early on during the run up the valley and on the exposed slopes. 

The last time I entered the Drei Zinnen race was 5 years ago when it snowed and we had to run over an alternative course on Monte Elmo. I finished 10th of 24 M60's that time. 

This time, albeit 5 years have passed and I'm not getting any younger, I was pleased to finish 26th of the 37 competing M60's. But I really think there are enough runners of my age to warrant an M65 category. 

As it stands a runner just out of his 59th year can be competing in the same group as a runner fast approaching 70. Surely a race which attracts 1,000 runners from many countries ought to have a separate category for M65 runners.  

I enjoyed the unique course and took the opportunity to admire the fantastic scenery and to wave to the helicopter monitoring the race and carrying our warm clothes to the race finish location. 

In the end I had plenty of energy left in the old tank, although I struggled a little in the final kilometers due to a twinge of cramp in my left thigh following the descent of the scree slope and the change of terrain onto the final undulating path (the path runs from left to right on the photo of my race number).

After crossing the finish line and sampling the cakes and fruit on offer we had to walk for about 9kms down a somewhat wiggly path (as shown on the notice board photo) to reach the bus terminus. 

The contagiously enthusiastic Lee Jaas, regularly here from Luxembourg, and whom I remembered from the 1998 event was staying at my hotel. With his superior course knowledge and younger M60 legs Lee finished 10 minutes in front of me in a time of 2:40:01. 

At breakfast the next morning it was judged that we were both in reasonably good condition following our exertions. 

And so, I expect we'll be back!

Destination TreCime  


1st Petro Mamu (ERI) 1:22.44
2nd Jonathan Wyatt (NZL) M40 1:27:46
3rd Thomas Niederegger (ITA) 1:30:15
48th Renate Rungger (ITA) 1st Lady 1:49:28
49th Albert Rungger (ITA) 1stM60 1:49:29
648th Lee Jaas (LUX) 19thM60 2:40:01
742nd Gwilym Williams  (GBR) 26thM60*  2:50:02

932 finishers

16 countries represented

*There is no M65 class at this race. My position(s) therefore was/were 26th of the 37 M60's (official) and 6th of the 10 M65's (unofficial). The fastest time recorded by an M65 runner was 2:06:49.

Lee Jaas

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

old shoes haiku

they stink a bit

and the fit is not what it was

whatever the cat may think

I will take these old shoes to the nearest Humana bin in the hope that they will brighten up some down-and-out's day.

Tip: Don't risk injury by running in worn out shoes. When you see that they are heading that way donate them to charity. They are still good for a few miles between soup kitchen and park bench. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Petro Mamu wins Austria's Feuerkogel Berglauf

Eritrea's world champion mountain runner was flanked by Kenyan challengers, 2nd and 3rd, at the recent Feuerkogel Race  prize presentation.

I took part in this high-class mountain race and finished 7th of 9 runners in my age group.

Running over the new (shorter) 10 km course was a joy. And having the men and ladies run over the same distance (not 11km and 9km as before) was a great improvement too.

Int. Feuerkogel Mountain Race,  11th August 2013
10kms 1250 mtrs hd

1. Petro Mamu      51:45 (CR)
78. F Reichoer   1M65 1:17:44
187. G Williams 7M65 1:40:40

 217 finishers (12 nations)

Ulrichsberg Mountain Race

As you can see from the photo it was a hot day for a race, but there was some welcome shade along the trail up Ulrichsberg, an ancient Celtic mountain.

Local farmers turned out with their hosepipes to spray the runners with cold water as we headed along a quiet road section through fields of wheat and barley in the early stages.

At the start an ancient double throne carved from stone marked the spot where justice was once dispensed and a small fountain dispensed cold water. We all drank from it gratefully.

The race soon left the plain and climbed steadily up a shady forest trail towards a ruined 13th century fortification on the mountain summit where assorted drinks, together with an ample supply of apples, cakes and bananas were laid out on a wall.

Those who had sent up a change of clothing changed into it. Others, like myself, jogged down the hill and caught the first waiting bus back to the starting area.

From the starting area I jogged to the presentation venue, the tennis club in the village of Maria Saal and there changed into dry clothes.

We all received a photograph of ourselves 'in action'. In addition I was placed 3rd in my age category and for my efforts I received a useful and unique prize; a hand painted kitchen jar (suitable for storing spaghetti!) bearing an image of the ancient building atop the Ulrichsberg.

16th. International Ulrichsberg Mountain Race 4th August 2013
9.2 kms / 550 mtrs hd

1.    R Stark               40:25
98.  E Schöckl   1M65  60:53
117.G Williams 3M65  65:02

154 finishers

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Up an anthill** and down a mountain

With the threat of thunderstorms hanging over us as I write this and record temperatures forecast for the coming weekend yesterday was the chosen day for my annual* walk, as I call it, with my friend H. 


The second photo shows the summit we reached (via Hinternaßwald, Reißtalklamm, Naßriegel, and Naßkamm). It's the 1828 meter (5997 ft) Ameißbichl (Anthill) and it lies directly north of the Lurgbauer Hut on the Schnnealpe massif. It was at the said hut that we stopped, some 3 hours into our leisurely walk, for traditional bowls of cheese dumpling soup. 

On the Anthill

We then left the hut and walked to the summit of our Anthill. There we settled down and enjoyed our sandwiches in the sunshine. 

Maybe my wearing my favourite luminous green t-shirt was not such a bright idea for I was soon attacked by an angry bee. 

From our vantage point I was able to make out the distinctive bulk of the Gemeindealpe in the middle distance and looking in another direction the nearby summit of the Rax. I had taken part in a mountain race on the Gemeindealpe only 3 days previously (see post below).

View to the Rax

After our meal we traversed a long narrow ridge resplendent with alpine flowers and numerous anthills to reach our next landmark, the Eisenkogel (1513 mtrs)(4963 ft). As we walked along towards our next place of interest, the Kreuzsattel (1368 mtrs)(4488 ft)  my friend informed me that much of Vienna's water supply lay within the rocks which lay beneath our feet. On one side of the ridge all the land and its resources belonged to the City of Vienna and on the other side of the ridge to the Province of Styria.

 Alpine panorama

We dropped off the ridge at the Kreuzsattel and because of the accumulating clouds we decided to make our way via the Loskogerl path to Hinternaßwald (712 mtrs)(2335 ft) rather than take the path over Groß Sonnleitstein (1639 mtrs)(5377 ft).

This proved to be the correct decision for there was soon a distant rumble of thunder followed after a short while by a torrential downpour which lasted 20 minutes and drenched us almost to the skin before we could reach the Hinternaßwald car park and its bus shelter where we encountered a couple of walkers changing out of their wet clothes.

And then the sun came out.

Ascent and descent: appx 1250 mtrs (4100 ft). Distance: appx 16 kms (10 miles).

*sometimes we walk in the mountains a couple of times a year!
**it turns out that the name of the hill has nothing to do with ants, although there were lots of ants and anthills there, but with the word 'Meiß' which means 'a young forest'. This is also a strange thing because, as can be seen in two of the photos, there are next to no trees on the slope of the hill and none at all on the top.

Monday, 22 July 2013

The 9th Gemeindealpe mountain race

plenty of suncream on my sensitive area

I am planning to enter a major race in a few months time to celebrate my 65th year to heaven. All my races from now on will be training runs to build condition for a successful completion of my target race.

That is why I travelled to the Mariazell area at the weekend.

The Gemeindealpe is the mountain in the foreground in the picture behind me. I am standing near the race start line in Mitterbach at 804 mtrs (2638') above sea level. The finish line is 6.4 kms (4 miles) away and is situated on the summit plateau at 1610 meters (5282') above sea level.

I have my water bottle with me. It's a warm day. I turn my cap back to front so that the peak is protecting the back of my neck and I start slowly, a mere jog  almost. I've seen the course profile. And so I know what to expect.

I salute the nordic walkers who are also going up the mountain.

reverse hat protection and water bottle full 

A big blue bird overlooks the start area which is the finish area for the downhill 3-wheeler racing carts. Behind me is the chair lift to bring the runners back down the mountain. I shall not be needing it because I'm planning to jog down the other side to the Erlaufsee Lake immediately after the race.

The local runners look lean and hungry for the fray. There are valuable championship points at stake. One of Austria's best mountain runners, Alois Redl, is here, despite the competing attraction of the International Großglockner Race in Carinthia.

The list of previous winners of the Gemeindealpe includes the names of some notable international runners; Helmut Schmuck and Andrea Mayr for example.

one for the album

Over the first 5 kms of the race we serpentine the forest trails to reach the so-called 'midway' checkpoint at 1380 mtrs (4528'), a height gain of 576 mtrs (1890'), and then it gets tougher!

We leave the trails and slog up a narrow rocky path to the summit. Nobody is running now as far as I can see. I have spent most of my race following in the footsteps of the experienced ultra runner Leopold Eigner who is using the race as part of his training for an upcoming 100 km event. I am content to follow him over the finish line.


1 - Alois Redl 37:36
31 - Willibald Hochfellner 1M60 49:57
54 - G Williams 5M60* 61:08

64 finishers

*(no category for M65)

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Round the Lainzertiergarten Trail Race

Race organizer Walter Zugriegel put it about that I'd sneaked off to a nearby pub for a pint of Guinness midway through today's 25 km trail run around the perimeter wall of the ancient royal hunting grounds on the outskirts of Vienna and that this excursion explained my 'slow' time. Mind you, he had earlier started the rumour that America's #1 fugitive Edward Snowden had not pre-entered today's race.

Humour is a great asset. 

In the final analysis I was runner-up in the M65 age category. I duly received a suitable cup and a deliciously green chocolate pig as my reward.

The actual reason for my race time being slightly slower than I had predicted was that an unknown miscreant had placed a false direction arrow on the course at a vital point early in the race. A group of runners, including myself,  had fallen for the ruse.

Perhaps the world's most famous fugitive was somewhere about after all?

I should have followed my instincts and stayed on the trail. I had local knowledge and had completed the race, of which this was the 25th and final running, on previous occasions. I can really only blame myself for my error.

Sidetracked we hunted for markers in vain. After several minutes and perhaps a kilometer down the wrong trail it dawned on many of us that we had been sent on a wild goose chase.

We retraced our steps and regained the correct track.

This episode didn't spoil my enjoyment of the race nor from the smiles I witnessed at the presentation ceremony that of other runners.

Round the Lainzertiergarten Trail Race
24.2 kms / 660 hm  -  7/7/2013

01. O Janercek CZ 1:43:33
59. M Reither AUT M65 2:34:31
66. G Williams GB 2M65 2:49:50

76 finishers
1 dnf

It would be a good thing if a local running club or other organization could take this race on board. It has great potential. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Mozart 100 trail run

Everyone a winner at the Mozart 100 !

It was a great event and the course was superbly marked and well marshaled. There were three distances to choose from: 100 kms, 55 kms and 25 kms. I opted for the 25 kms.

After the heatwave of the previous few days the cooler conditions on the day were most pleasant.

My race started in the village of Fuschl and followed an undulating trail through woodland along the north side of the Fuschlsee Lake.

The next landmark was The Wall. This was the steep hill into the village of Hof. Cheerleaders and hip-hop music helped us up the hill to the first checkpoint near the fire station. Here I took a drink of cola which was on offer.

Having earlier partaken of a refreshing slice of water melon at the start line five minutes before 'the off' I was now feeling good.

The route then meandered across undulating farmland along the perimeter of the A1 Ring, Austria's motor racing circuit. More farmland lanes and then a tunnel under the main Fuschl-Salzburg road followed by a climb onto the forest trails and woodland paths leading towards the final descent into Salzburg.

A wonderful panorama of the town laid out below from the 5 kms to the finish point. Along here I grabbed an energy gel and a welcome cup of water. Just to be on the safe side! Didn't want to run out of steam now.

The final 2 or 3kms were through the city streets and alleys and over a footbridge to the finishing arena in the Mozart Square. People shouted words of encouragement: Looking strong! Great run! etc..

As I crossed the line someone took my photo and they gave it to me in a frame. Someone thought I'd broken the record for my age group, if such a record ever existed; there are no age category distinctions in the 25 kms Mozart Light.

It was time for a cool Stiegl, the sponsor's beer. Well earned, I thought.

I had spoken to a couple of Kenyans befoe the race. I wanted to know if old men; 65 years, 70 years or even 80 years were running for enjoyment in Kenya. Sadly they shook their heads. Only the young are running, one of them said.

100 kms race:

1. Casaba Nemeth (HUN) 7:48:22

(96 finishers)

55 kms race:

1. Philip von Rosen (SWE) 4:03:33

(99 finishers)

25 kms race:

1. Peter Chege Wangari (KEN)  1:25:20
47. Gwilym Williams M65 (GB) 2:30:47

(81 finishers)

Other events included relays and nordic walking contests.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Big step in the right direction

I had pre-entered the Cortina-Dobiacco 30km Trail Run and made my way to the South Tyrol area several days prior to the event to do some trail walking at altitude in order to make up for my 6 weeks of missed training. The scenery in the Dolomites is breathtaking and I always enjoy any time I spend in those mountains.

It was my Italian friend Mauro who had put me wise to the delights of the 30 km race from the Veneto to the Pustertal. Here we are visiting the trade stands and collecting our race numbers on the eve of the race.

The trail, along the course of a disused railway, is always at an altitude between the 1100 and 1600 meter contour lines. My plan was simply to enjoy the day and finish the race within the 4hrs 30mins cut-off time. This target was achieved with a time of 3hrs 16mins. The first 20 kms presented no problems. In the latter stages, the final 10 km, probably due to lack of a recent long training run, I slowed appreciably, by at least 30 sec per km. But that was only to be expected.

 Finishing injury-free I can now contemplate the rest of the 2013 season, and my 65th year to heaven, with renewed optimism.

Cortina to Dobiacco Run 

1. N Biwott - 1:37:31
13. V Straneo - 1F 1:47:39
74. F Badolato - 1M55 2:02.26
432. H Schaiter - 1M65 2:19:29
2817. M Vendali - M55 3:00:56
3324. G Williams - M65 3:16:41

3875 finishers

Friday, 17 May 2013

Challenging times

 Got a problem? Deal with it.

Injured? There's no place for the sulks in sport. Being miserable and falling into depression will only delay recovery.

The first week after I cracked my ribs I took painkillers and used an elasticated strapping as support.

That was that.

The second week I dispensed with the strapping and reduced the painkillers. I gently applied various anti-inflamatory ointments and rubs.

The third week I knocked off the painkillers but stuck with the anti-inflamatory massage.

I now ventured out with my Nordic walking sticks. I found the straight up and down movement of my arms was not doing any damage and I upped the distance and, importantly, the time on my feet.

Now into the fourth week I decided to tackle a small hill. I went with the tram, or Bim, to Rodaun and then walked to Perchtoldsdorf and from there up the hill known as the Kammerstein.

The total distance walked was roughly 10 kms (6 miles) with 300 mtrs (1,000 ft) of ascent and I was pleased to manage it without any problems.

The winding hillside path took me through mixed woodland and over a carpet of wild garlic; its powerful scent playing on the ever shifting breeze.

I saw a kestrel flying away with a small animal in its talons.

I saw two women with two severely handicapped children in wheelchairs a short way up the path.

I later saw a man, who appeared to have had a stroke or a serious accident affecting one side of his body making his way up in determined fashion.

And I thought how fortunate I am with only a cracked rib or two.

At the summit there was a refreshment hut and it was open. There I found a place in the sun and out of the wind and rested with a refreshing pint of shandy.

A stranger took my photograph and complemented me on my mastery of German. I thought how kind people can be. And also how courageous they can be.

This morning I walked 8 laps around the jogging course in my local park. That's 12 kms (7.5 miles).

I think I may be running again in 2 or 3 weeks. Time, as they say, will tell.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

New goals now required

Two posts below I reported on my last race. Here, from that event, are the latest action photographs of the Bard on the Run.

As well as our finisher-medals and jpgs we also 'received' official certificates to download and print but with the price of printer ink being prohibitive I declined the offer.

My current injury, for the record, is not a running injury. I foolishly tried to 'help' a neighbour catch her cat. Before I knew it I'd slipped on a polished floor, sandals with no grip, and fallen heavily cracking my ribs on the corner of a wooden box. The cat, it goes without saying, escaped my clutches!

That was two weeks ago. Now I'm more than pleased to be walking, if not yet running, with the aid of occasional pain killers and a pair of Nordic walking sticks; slow and steady progress being the order of the day.

Meanwhile I'm rereading my trail and mountain running magazines; especially with regard to fixture lists. I will obviously have to revise my plans. New goals and a fresh training schedule will soon be required for the rearranged season ahead. All this is also part of the fun, as well as a challenge.

The road to the hill 

Approaching the summit

The finishing straight  

Monday, 29 April 2013


There's a short film (just over 4 mins) which I can recommend on my TRAIL RUNNING TV link. It's dated Nov 30. It shows Pablo Vigil and Kilian Jornet running in the Colorado wilderness. There's no product placement or advertising. It's just two men running. One young. One older.

Pablo is much the nearest in age to me. And so I identify with Pablo. And also with what he says. He says running is not about winning this race and that race. It's about 'inspiration'. It's about 'passion'. It's about 'passing the torch to the next generation'. And so it is.

When I first came to live where I now live there was not another runner on the block. Now, 15 years later, there is a runner in every second or third house. When I first ran the trails in the local woods I never saw another runner. But then they started to appear. First two or three. Then more. And now many.

Like Pablo and Kilian I've also run right up to the so-called wild animals and they haven't batted an eyelid; foxes, deer, chamois, and even mountain goats I include. Sometimes I've stood so close to them that I could almost reach out and touch them.

Like Pablo and Killian and their meeting with the elks I have felt no fear. And the animals I have met have felt no fear. It was and is as Pablo says "as if we were brothers". And it really is so. Or it can be if you are lucky. It starts with the right attitude to life and the right way of being a runner.

Currently I'm injured (it's not running related) and cannot run. When I'm injured, which is rarely, I am greatly inspired by films like the one I've just seen and I can't wait to get back on the trails.

The runner's task says Pablo (as I have already mentioned) is to pass the torch to the next generation of runners.

I willingly do that also, but I must add the proviso that when I speak about running I am not speaking about pounding the pavements or the tarmac. I am speaking about running in the fresh air and the wide spaces far away from the factories and the cars.

Take the train or the bus or the bicycle or simply walk. Find a beach or a hill or a forest or a river, or a canal or a lake or any place with an out-of-town trail. And run.

Lace-up and go for it. It's basically what I do. And I recommend it to younger people. It's the best thing you can do with your life. It took me 40 years to discover it. My words can save you much time and trouble. I've now been doing it for more than 25 years. It's life. It's pure life.

And it costs almost nothing. There's no need for any fancy gear. The socks, shorts, anorak, emergency whistle, and t-shirt you already own. So it's a basically a small investment; a pair of trail shoes, €40 should do it, and you're on your way.

Enjoy it.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Bisamberg Hill Race


Bisamberg is sometimes called "the first Alp". It was a fitting place to premier a new event. It is at or near Bisamberg where the eastern end of the Alpine chain begins. 

The hill itself is a picturesque hump with many trails and paths, some quite steep, climbing through decidious woodland and forest and giving way to attractive cobbled lanes passing through vineyards and orchards on the descent down its south-east flank. 

It is situated to the north of the Danube River near Vienna. An ideal location for an early season outing. 

The weather was overcast and the temperature, in the light breeze, was about 12-15C. Good conditions for a mid-April event starting mid-afternoon. 

I opted for the 'soft' 9km race; it goes about 3/4ths of the way up the hill, unlike the 12km which goes to the top.

I had been reading about Kenyan runners and thought, like them, I'd go low-key and begin the home season with a confidence boosting performance.  

Most of the runners, several of them targeting early points in the annual Austrian mountain running cup trophy, opted for what is set to become a 12km classic.  

The race started with a lap of the running track and then followed a country lane skirting the base of the hill until the course divided: 12km race straight on and 9km race to the right. Turning right I entered woodland and began a long gradual ascent to the feeding station at the 9k 'summit'. 

The paths soon became narrower and quickly descended into meadows and then into a series of uneven cobbled lanes. I had chosen to run in a pair of gel-cushioned shoes and it was over these uneven stones that the shoes came into their own. I was able to get down the hill painlessly. 

It was then back on the running track and a full lap to the finish line where I finished almost as fresh as when I had started. 

An early-season confidence building result. The harder races will come soon enough. 

Bisamberg 9km Hill Race

1. Phil Schwarzl - URC Spk - 34:53
8. Gwilym Williams - Clayton M65 - 48:48

46 finishers

Bisamberg 12km Hill Race 

1. Norbert Busl - 49:41

167 finishers

Monday, 15 April 2013

Running in the Lainzer Nature Park

Vienna's Lainzer Tiergarten

Today's long run (3 hrs) started and finished at the Nikolai Tor and included the Laaber Tor and the Lainzer Tor with its information centre (i) where I picked up this map. The total distance was approximately 26.5 kms and included a guesstimated 850 mtrs of ascent and descent. I visited the summit 3 times. The Tiergarten is a favourite venue for runners for many reasons, one of which is the convenient absence of dogs. 

Another reason I prefer to run in the Tiergarten is that is that I can soon be there using Vienna's excellent public transport system.  The S-Bahn railway station at Hüttledorf is less than 10 minutes walk from the Nikolai Tor entrance. I make good use of my pensioners' travel ticket, which I also use to travel on the local trams, buses and the U-Bahn network.

Entrance to the Lainzer Tiergarten is free.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Pendle Hill Race

Pendle Fell Race; the famous Big End ascent. 

Just follow the flags . . . 

. . . and grin and bear it! 

It was a glorious day out. The weather was perfect. And after the race I got to see the Grand National Steeplechase on the TV in the local pub at Barley village and touch base with old friends. Like me, my Grand National selection didn't win. As for my race, I had overlooked the possibility of a long queue at the stile early on and consequently I lost a bit of ground on my opponents.

Nevertheless, now on the wrong side of 65, I was very pleased to complete the course injury-free and without undue difficulty in my first hill race of the year; a satisfactory pipe-opener for the season ahead as I believe the expression is in horse racing circles.

Pendle Hill Race 6th April 2013
4.5 miles 1500' +/-

1. R Hope - Pudsey & Bramley - 32:13
71. J Holt 1M60 Clayton Harriers - 41:17
278. G Williams 20M60 Clayton Harriers - 56:56

340 finished incl. 30M60's

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Where is the Spring?

A stork in Rust

The storks are arriving in Burgenland. They have the long journey from Africa behind them. Perhaps it is a sign that improving weather is on the way; although I have to say that tomorrow's forecast is for yet more snow.

On Monday, I went for a blast round Eisenstadt's Esterhazy Park. My session was 3 laps on mixed-terrain paths and trails and covered 9.45kms with 290 mtrs +/- of undulations.

I was delighted to complete the course in 54 minutes. Last time I ran over the same course in the park I took 53 minutes; but that was in September when the weather was much warmer.

The Austrian Alps are particularly dangerous at the moment because the snow is unstable. On Monday, the day I was in the park, at least 5 persons were swept away in 3 avalanches. Only 1 survivor reported.

Be careful out there.